American consumers are steering clear of peanuts but how clear are they on the facts?
A survey conducted by the Harvard Opinion Research Program at the Harvard School of Public Health has found that while the vast majority of Americans (93 per cent) have heard or read about the recall of peanut products, one in four mistakenly believe that major national brands are involved. Seventy per cent, says the survey, correctly identify peanut butter crackers as being involved, but less than half are aware that several other products containing peanuts have been recalled, including some in each of the following food categories: snack bars (49 per cent), cakes, brownies, and cookies (45 per cent), pet treats (43 per cent), candy (39 per cent), pre-packaged meals (36 per cent), ice cream (27 per cent), and jars or cans of dry-roasted peanuts (23 per cent). Only fourteen per cent of those who were aware of the recall report having checked the Food and Drug Administration’s online list of foods involved and 19 per cent have looked for more information about the recall. The survey also found that consumers have low levels of confidence in groups involved in food production and inspection. More than six in 10 Americans express only some or very little confidence in food manufacturers (67 per cent) and the government inspections system (62 per cent) to keep food safe. And just over half (52 per cent) say they have only some or very little confidence in grocery stores to keep food safe. The authors of the study recommend that consumers be encouraged to check government sources frequently for updated information on recalls and that food safety systems act quickly to fix the problem and improve public confidence.